A strong criminal defense highlighting the fact that shoddy and circumstantial evidence was the only thing linking three men to a series of infamous murders in 1993 eventually led to the men’s release from prison.
Having been locked up 18 years for the alleged murders of three second-grade children in West Memphis, Arkansas the men were finally released in a plea agreement where they were required to plead guilty, even though they maintain their innocence.
Dubbed the West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley were put behind bars after three second-grade children were found dead, hogtied in a ditch and their bodies mutilated. Accusers speculated that the three men, teens at the time, were driven to the act by a satanic ritual. The other-worldly claims were laid on the teens because they were different from many others in the community they lived in. In fact, one of the pieces of so-called evidence introduced in the case was a Blue Oyster Cult record that one of the men listened to.
Another main piece of evidence was a knife found near the home of one of the men, but as time went on, doubt rose on whether the knife could have inflicted the murder wounds. There was also no DNA to link the weapon to the murder.
Echols, the alleged mastermind of the attack, had been on death row during the entire time he served his sentence and was confined to an isolated cell. As time passed and more people focused on the evidence in the case it grew in popularity. Eventually celebrities like actor Johnny Depp and Pearl Jam singer Eddie began to lobby for the men’s innocence.
Now that the men are out of jail, they are working on piecing their lives together and acclimating themselves to a far different world than they remembered.
Source: CNN, “Decades without daylight: ‘West Memphis Three’ describe life in prison,” Sept. 30, 2011